My Irish Up: How to Smoke a Pipe

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

Americans purchased less than five million pounds of pipe tobacco in 2004, a 91% decline from 1970. — Livestrong website

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

Since I haven’t been dying fast enough for most people’s tastes lately, I decided to take up smoking a pipe. While some may ask, Why? I boldly exclaim, Hellfire, Why Not? Besides, when my book comes out, I want to be identifiable as The Author, as in: “The Author of forty-five novels and a multiple Pulitzer Prize winner, James Michener is not pictured above.” And there I would be, smoking my pipe and looking authoritative.

What kind of pipe, though? Meerschaum? Corncob? PVC? I decided to ask an expert.

Smokey Hayes has been smoking for 49 of his 56 years on the planet, and for all seven of his years off-world. He has puffed cigars, cigarettes, funny cigarettes, funny pipes and even smokeless tobacco (which does too smoke, he reports, if you use a blowtorch). In fact, Hayes was full of so much useful information about smoking, I am going to quote him verbatim.

“Pipe-smoking was invented by Coriander Took around 400 S.A., they say — but tobacco had been around as a medicinal drug for hundreds of years before that. Into the Third Age, the ancient Egyptians used to stuff tobacco in their ears before retiring and then they would light it, kind of like a smudge pot, to keep the mosquitoes away at night.”

“Not surprisingly, DaVinci invented the modern pipe cleaner, though at first everyone thought it was a design for a really thin helicopter. It was 300 years before tobacco was re-discovered by the Europeans, when John Smith stole it from the Indians in exchange for not killing the hostages. DaVinci finally got his patent, and the rest is history.”

“Now, your modern pipe is composed of three parts: the Stem, the Part Between the Stem and the Bowl, and the Bowl. You can remember these three parts by repeating this catchy little mnemonic device over and over:

Come on baby light my Bowl

Come on baby light my Bowl

Come on baby light my Bowl

Try to set my Stem

on….. fi-i-i-i-y-a-a-a-h!”

“Now, what you’re looking for in a pipe, besides style, is a good draw. You also need to get yourself a pipe kit: this should include, at the very least, pipe cleaners, a spare Part Between the Stem and the Bowl, jumper cables, a tamping device, and maybe a jury to tamper with, just for fun.”

“Also important is the variety of tobacco chosen: I like, in no particular order: Cherrrywood, Wild Cherry, Cherrypit, Pondicherry Square, Cherry Mint Sandalwood, and Old Rags and Turpentine. Obviously, you get a different type of ‘burn’ and ‘draw’ with each variety. Burning Old Rags and Turpentine has drawn fire departments from as many as three towns away.”

I thanked the man. I am now smoking for fun and profit. Plus, I look very professorial. When a breeze comes up and you can almost make out my profile through the blue fog. As I had hoped, by my smoking a pipe people have finally begun to say that I have “arrived.” But actually, I’m still three blocks away!

Mike’s cat makes him smoke outside.

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